He has a second life, Mary Humpstead said with a smile. And she should know. Her committee at the Little Theatre of Alexandria often chooses Roland Branford Gomez for the directors chair. A Falls Church resident, he spends much of his other life at Weichert Realtors in Annandale.
When her committee chooses directors, Humpstead explained, We look at what their experience has been, what they have directed before, how good the production was and how well they worked with the cast and the team. Ronald has done excellent shows. Run for Your Wife was very successful, she added, raising high hopes for the follow-up.
This year marks important anniversaries in both of these roles. Gomez has spent 25 years as a real estate consultant and 40 as a member of the LTA board. The community theater group, in turn, is celebrating its 75th season.
Gomezs business career has put him among the top 5 percent nationally of the Weichert Presidents Club. But his first calling came much earlier. I started in radio when I was a little boy, he recalled, with a program called Coast to Coast on a Bus. A theater and speech therapy major, he directed his first play, for Adelphi University, when he was 19.
A venture into the retail industry brought him from his native Long Island to Northern Virginia. When he sold his shop in 1983, a friend advised him to go into real estate. He told me I would love it, Gomez recalled. And he was right. Thats because I enjoy working directly with people. With a smile, he added, I also sell a lot of my actors homes.
His theatrical career has been varied. The classic comedy The Women was his first LTA production, in 1975, followed by the farcical Run for Your Wife. And I must have done two dozen plays since then, Gomez estimates.
Next June he will continue the supremely silly story with It Runs in the Family, complete with squirting seltzer bottles and other slapstick standards. Musical comedy plays a vital role in his repertoire, with productions like Victor/Victoria, Crazy for You and Stop the World, I Want to Get Off. This fall, he will teach a musical theater class at LTA.
But Gomez does not confine his work to comedy. One of his favorite projects was the grim wartime drama, The Watch on the Rhine. I would love to do that again, he said.
Earlier this year, he directed the equally serious Winslow Boy at the Aldersgate Church Community Theater of Alexandria, and this month he is off Broadway bound, to direct a play called Eugenio for the New York Midtown Festival. Eugenio revisits the true story of Pope Pius XII, who helped protect thousands of Italian Jews during World War II.
As a 20-year member of the Screen Actors Guild, Gomez still appears before the cameras in minor roles such as the limo driver in The Net.
I really enjoy working with Ronald, Humpstead said. He is a lot of fun to work with. He has also done comedies and drama and music, so he is very versatile. We look at a lot of fine directors. Like all theaters, we need to sell tickets and that takes excellent shows. Roland can provide them for us.